Fear and Loathing in Lost Vega: The Hobo Station, The Clustilation, & The Vanduul
(Citizen Star News) - Written under duress by Hunter S. Thorshu - 2945-10-06
(Warning and disclaimers - this correspondent is now considered missing. The editorial staff sternly denies deliberately putting Mr Thorshu in harms way, and only wishes for the safe return. Report is posted in it's entirety in the spirit of preserving the integrity of what very well may be his last words and in the interest of bringing our Citizens the full story.)
I thought my goose was damn cooked when the COMSTAB malfunctioned ... causing my trusty steed, the F8 Lightning prototype, to slide wildly into the viscous nickel iron spinning rock.
This damn assignment was surely going to get me killed. Who were these people living on the edge of nowhere, and why did my editors so want me to meet with them? What possibly was there to gain from all of this? Back home in Civilization, the Empire is wrestling with the fate of humanity. That is what I wanted to be covering. The Polo Initiative threatens to hamstring mankind's defense industry. All of which wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for the bipedal monitor lizards rapaciously waiting for their chance to raid our systems... the Vanduul. This false dichotomy, give the Senate a blank check … or cripple our defenses being put to a vote in our Empire of dullards.
I had been on Aramis, Vega III, covering the campaign leading up to the vote. The reaction on this border world to the inner system’s demands.
Was that it? Do my editors want me dead? Was I too close to something?
I sat pondering that morbid thought for what seemed like weeks, waiting for the winner of the race between the cold or lack of air to collect their due. I eventually injected a few pain-killers from the med kit to make the time go by a bit more pleasantly.
But as luck would have it, a deepspace hauler picked up my distress signal. It was, ironically, a converted Retaliator bomber that must have been from the Messer Era from the pits and scratches on the hull. Several other bedraggled souls stuffed into the odd corners of the former ship of war at first seemed like crew or maybe hostages, but it dawned on me that they were merely passengers.
After a brief but spirited negotiation (not helped by the lingering euphoria of the painkillers), the pilot -- I don't dare give him the honor of calling him captain -- agreed to take me to my destination. Leaving the getting back to me... but the story must be pursued.
The detour from his normal route was merely a short one, but the nervousness of this musky excuse for a freighter pilot had spread quickly after departing, him and the rest of the passengers were anxious to return to the known spaceroutes.
As we made a final approach pass my eyes were fixated on the solitary hulk, here at the ass end of space one could not get farther removed from civilization. Several ships had been docked together and perhaps welded, fused. Mostly RSI ships, several Constellations… a few Auroras. I guess you could call it a cluster of Constellations. A damn clustillation if you will.
After a short EVA (the rank bastard of a rescuer refused to dock, even after an attempt at a decent amount of financial persuasion) and a short stay in the airlock i entered into this room which in all intents and purpose is the main power generator according to my host (who wishes to remain anonymous).
The first thing i'm specifically shown with any amount of pride was the water tank, or more specifically the constellation made to hold water with use of grav plates. This ship had been cleverly upended vertically against the stations plane of gravity.
The thought "an oasis of water in the desert" comes to mind, as there is no liquid water around for quite some distance.
"The owner" shows me his prize cutlass black, the one functioning ship amongst these husks that make up the station. At best it’s worthy of a junking, but for him its his lifeline, without it this station will be his grave.
A moment of serenity washed over me. I could suddenly see something of value. Out here in the ass end of space a refuge had been made, like a log cabin on the frontier. A man had arrived in a vacuum and bent it to his will.
Several others joined us. Greeting my host with an eager grip of flesh, and hearty slaps on the shoulder.
Who are these people? These faces? A loose clan, a tribe… they regarded me with a mix of fear and almost lust. I was an outsider, not to be trusted ...perhaps fresh meat.
What’s the score here, what’s next? Was I safe here? I had to do something, I realized eyeing the display of guns and knives on these savages. I neared a state of hysterical angst. Casting about for something… anything I could do. If there is one thing I’ve learned, there is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any time.
My host perhaps sensed my unease and offered to show me what he called his “gem”. The water tank I had been shown earlier feeds into the hold of another Connie. There grew a lush display of almost wild uncontrolled hydroponics... as if that isn't an oxymoron. It had been days since a proper meal, so when an actually goddamn fawn stepped out into the light ...just like we were in some primeval earth forest... a look of hunger must have come over my face. Flashed back to my youthful days hunting for food on the frontiers. Almost literally buckfever.
My host put his hand on my arm and said, "No, my friend. The deer is not for eating. Bad luck. The Thorshu we eat." He grinned, making a joke of my nom-de plume (I hope) and jerking his head back to the water tank where I had seen several of the so called Thorshu Grey 'spacecrabs'.
Our eyes locked. I could see his pupils dilate abruptly. He shook his head as if to clear out the mental cobwebs and then stared at me with a growing... what? Horror, anger… or most disturbingly … hunger?
Attempting to clarify the situation I offered: “I’m not actually one of those spacecrab,you know ... that’s just the hallucinogenic I slipped into your grog.”
I felt sorry for the filthy little creature as he grunted and fell twitching toward me, hands warding off invisible vermin. I carried the poor bastard back to the waiting Cutlass, using him to bypass the biometrics to make my escape from this awful place.
“Ignore this terrible drug.” I told him. “Pretend this isn’t happening.”
Undocking in a hurry, I dragged my gibberish muttering host along for the ride.
I fully intended to find a place to leave him to sleep off the drugs and allow him to head back to his hellish little utopia complete with his sad excuse for a ship. I may not be the best human being, but I try not to be a complete punk.
No pursuit... good. No sign of the human jackals we had left behind. Time to leaned back in the pilot seat, activate the mobiGlass, and dictate this report as we travel.
But as we dropped out of fast travel at a safe docking port over Vega II, a monstrous spiky silhouette filled the view screen. The damn Vanduul were attacking! A destroyer or cruiser ahead. Bladed little fighters arced menacingly in small formations. I was right in the middle of a god damned reptile invasion.
I slammed the fat assed Cutlass into reverse, it’s engines spinning on their axis sending a shudder down the ship. Careened crazily towards the lee side of the station barely avoiding that damned useless spinning ring. Started prepping the Q-Drive, as soon as I had the station between me--us and the alien invaders.
Luckily the Cutlass Black is more stealthy than most ships it’s size. And the Vanduul had other things to worry about.
Better park this ship somewhere safe and file this report. Load it on the spectrum and pray it gets through.
You evil bastards! This is all your doing, editors. Get me the hell out of here.
((Editors note: This in fiction, aka in-verse, Star Citizen tale is brought to by Citizen Star Teller and our own Citizen Ed. Alternate imgur album link. Style is a deliberate homage or parody of the classic gonzo works of Hunter S. Thompson with all credits due him. And Teller wanted us to say: Special Thanks to Peter Gunn.))